Heart rate isn't high enough!???

This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  wiekky 4 years ago.

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  • I’ve just started the “bare minimum” routine from the Fast Exercise book. I am very unfit and have started cycling on a stationary exercise bicycle.
    The problem is my heart rate doesn’t seem to get high enough. During the 20 second “sprints” I am pushing myself as hard as possible – my legs are exhausted and burning and I can barely make it through the full 20 seconds (which I understand is how it’s supposed to be?)… BUT, my heart rate doesn’t even reach 120, let alone 80% HRmax. Why is that? Am I doing something wrong? Will it still “work”?

    Please help!!

    Hi Skwump,

    sorry for the late reply, i’ve only just seen this post. Have you had your thyroid tested? You could be underactive.

    Due to the fact that I had quadruple bypass (heart) surgery 3 years ago, I track my exercise with a chest strap heart monitor all the time. I am also on beta blocker medication, which lowers your maximum heart rate and slows the heart rate generally about 5-10 bpm. I do between 2 and 5 hours/week of fairly strenuous cardiovascular exercise including high-intensity intervals. Almost all my exercise is cycling – outdoors and indoors on a turbo-trainer.

    First, it is important to warm up thoroughly before doing intervals to avoid injury. High intensity intervals can improve cardiovascular fitness, but does little for building muscular endurance, strength and power. In any case, it takes me at least 10 minutes of spinning at a high cadence (90-100 rpm) to get my heart rate up and warm up my muscles and joints. When I do flat out 20 second sprint intervals (HIIT) my heart rate usually doesn’t go up immediately, but rises after the interval. I rest 90 second and do another. I usually do 4-5 intervals. By the 3rd my heart rate is getting pretty high. The 90 second rest is easy spinning.

    It sounds to me as though you have not quite established a good connection between your muscular demands and your heart/respiration system. Are you breathing hard after the interval and sweating when you finish? I find that my muscles are the weak point for me now. They start hurting before I reach my limit heart-wise. As the cycling season progresses, my muscles will grow stronger and develop more mitochondria for producing energy.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts that might help. I’m 67 years old and rode about 2,000 miles last year to give you some idea.

    Thanks for your post Viking, I seem to be having a similar HR response to yours

    “my heart rate usually doesn’t go up immediately, but rises after the interval”

    my HR Max is around 180bpm (as measured on my wrist with a smartband sensor) and I have no problem getting there given enough time, but with HIIT intervals of 20 seconds (sprint if outdoors or high-knee run indoors) I get to about 120bpm (at the end 20 sec intense interval) and keep climbing to 160-ish bpm during the next 20-or-so seconds of moderate jog, then HR drops again to a 100-110bpm as I keep jogging so time-wise the “rest” interval totals at about 60 seconds (and slightly longer with every consecutive repetition).

    Would you say this is typical in HIIT and should I expect to have more immediate reactions as I keep up training?

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